The current study aimed to examine the perceptions of primary school teachers in different periods of their professional life regarding what constitutes professional development and their experiences with reformed professional development courses.
Teachers (N = 45) were enrolled in the study from three professional life periods (entry-level, advanced, and expert) as defined by the Israeli Ministry of Education, largely on the basis of years of teaching experience.
Their perceptions were examined in semi-structured interviews.
Teachers in all periods of their professional life seek to learn material that they can apply in teaching, student learning, or assessment contexts in their schools and classroom.
Entry-level teachers overwhelmingly desire to pursue professional learning goals that extend beyond the current focus on classroom competence. Entry-level and advanced teachers express a preference to learn in workshops, which offer participatory learning experiences.
For expert teachers in Israel, consideration should be given to removing the compulsory nature of formal professional development, while enabling them to pursue courses beyond their discipline and according to their interests.
All three groups suggest that course content should be better mapped to teachers’ needs.
These findings are consistent with the life phase model of teachers’ professional development.